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Never offer a female the senior discount

November 18, 2012


I got a big dose of déjà vu yesterday while standing in a long grocery line.

I had three items — a bottle of Clairol, some wrinkle cream and the economy size of ginkgo biloba — nary a thing to eat. That’s what happens when you grow older — food no longer matters as long as you can afford every new anti-aging product that comes down the pike.

But that’s beside the point I need to make.

An acquaintance (much younger than I) was in front of me in the line and we had been one-upping each other about all the fascinating things we are currently involved in. She is training for the Nashville marathon and asked me how we trained.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I bragged that I’m into white water rafting these days because running is too hard on the joints. (Translation: Walking is hard enough, forget running).

So, she finally gets to the front of the line and plunks down her Generation X probiotic yogurt and vitamin water. The gum-popping, hot pink-coiffed clerk rang her up and asked if she wanted the senior discount. I watched that poor girl deflate like a punctured tire. In a pitiful state of exasperation, she angrily ran her bank card through the machine but couldn’t remember her pin number.

I felt so sorry for her I wanted to take her in my arms and say, “There, there, the clerk didn’t mean it. She’s probably not wearing her contacts.” (Silly clerk. Secretly I wished I could see that clerk when she gets payback at the age of 45!)

The truth is, the exact same thing happened to me 15 years ago when I was still way too young to partake of the dreaded senior discounts. The difference was I had a truck load of groceries when the well-meaning clerk asked if I qualified for the senior discount. She might as well have said, “You look like an ugly old dried up prune of a bag lady, so let me make your day and give you the old people’s discount.”

I looked at her in horror then slammed my purse shut and stomped out into the parking lot to look for my car which took me 20 minutes to find.

See what happens when someone offers you a senior discount? You mysteriously age 30 years on the spot. I left that entire cart of groceries on the conveyer belt, and vowed never to return to that grocery store in this lifetime. (Interestingly, it went out of business a few months later). I also made an appointment for hair color and renewed my prescription for Retin-A.

I eventually got over the incident and, these days, I’m tickled to death to get a few bucks off though I’d rather ASK for the discount. I don’t want anyone volunteering it. 

That will instantly clue you in that you’re A) needing your roots touched up; B) It’s time to book a weekend for a Lifestyle-Lift; or, C) Begin wearing turtle necks and gloves, and never take off your sunglasses. 

The moral of this story for all you well-meaning retailers, is NEVER, NEVER, ask a woman if she wants the senior discount. If she qualifies, she knows it and will ask.  

A 10 percent discount just isn’t worth the pain of admitting you’ve reached the dark side of the hill.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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